Contractor fined $189K for OR bridge safety violations
- The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Minnesota contractor $189,000 and issued the company nine safety violations related to worker injuries on a Portland, OR, bridge project, according to KGW.com.
- Oregon OSHA said contractor Abhe & Svoboda did not provide adequate fall protection for workers prior to an incident in which a worker fell 37 feet from the bridge and landed on another individual, injuring them both.
- Company officials allegedly tried to justify their lack of compliance with Oregon's safety rules by arguing that the rules change too often. The agency cited the company with two willful and seven serious violations.
While construction work in general is inherently dangerous, bridge work can be especially risky, as many employees are consistently working at elevated heights. In November, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation charged contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. $3.3 million for damages related to a fire that erupted on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh while Fay was working there.
According to PennDOT, one of Fay's welders started a fire so intense that it bent steel members, which made inspectors question the structural integrity of the bridge. It was later discovered that Fay had neglected to pull a $16 hot-work permit, which would have mandated a fire inspection and the presence of a fire watcher team during welding. No workers were injured in the fire, but since it threatened their safety, OSHA investigated the incident as well and fined Fay more than $11,000.
Last year, federal OSHA increased its fines by 78% as part of the 2016 federal budget bill, which required it and other federal agencies to raise their fines and penalty rates to conform to increases in the Consumer Price Index. That was OSHA's first penalty rate hike since 1990.
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